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Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Australia's report to the UNCSD - 1995

Implementation of Agenda 21
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1995
ISBN 0 6444 3152 0


Chapter 24 of Agenda 21

Australian women see environmental issues as a major concern, prompting the inclusion of the environment as an issue for action in the New National Agenda for Women 1993-2000 which was developed by the Office of the Status of Women and launched in February 1993.

Consultations in 1991 by the National Women's Consultative Council revealed that environmental issues were of significant importance to women and that women considered they had particular skills to contribute to the solutions. The importance placed on the environment by women is reflected in their high membership of environmental community groups and their high profile in debate on environmental issues. This importance and profile is not yet adequately reflected in many of the decision-making processes which have significant impact on the environment.

Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) requires the development of ESD related policies, programs and actions which incorporate the particular concerns of women, while ensuring that actions to achieve ESD do not have inequitable effects on women. Governments have undertaken to ensure women's access to information and the decision-making processes in relation to ESD. In addition, decision makers are explicitly requested to assess, and make efforts to minimise where inequitable or disadvantageous, the gender impacts of ESD related decisions.

Australia is addressing the issue of increasing the influence of women in environmental decision-making in a number of ways. These include supporting the involvement of women and their organisations in environment policy processes particularly in relation to ecologically sustainable development.

The Australian Government has undertaken to improve the representation of women on Government bodies and committees dealing with environmental issues. There is also recognition of the need to encourage incorporation of ecologically sustainable development principles into curriculum guidelines in all levels of education in a way which encompasses the perspectives of women.

A cooperative approach will be pursued by Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to improve levels of training in environment based occupations with particular attention to reducing barriers to the participation of women. Australia is also working to reduce labour market barriers to women in industry sectors which rely on natural resources and in which women are presently under-represented.

There is a commitment to continue to promote and extend initiatives such as the Landcare , Save the Bush and One Billion Trees programs and to encourage participation by women and community based organisations in campaigns of positive action. Decision-makers are also to consider the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, on matters that impact on land and waterways, particularly those of sacred and spiritual significance.

Australia provides support for international programs addressing women and environmental issues through the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB). AIDAB provides funding to a number of UN agencies which work closely with women, including the UN Fund for Population Activities, the UN Environment Program and the UN Development Fund for Women. AIDAB also provides support for women in developing countries through its funding of individual bilateral projects.

Most development agencies and recipient governments are moving from a special focus on 'women in development' to a broader attempt to integrate an awareness of gender issues into all development activities, and the term gender is now used more frequently in development planning and implementation. The gender and development approach starts with an examination of issues of power and resources. Since 1993 AIDAB has moved to a gender approach. AIDAB is currently undertaking a stocktake of progress in implementing gender concerns into all aid activities.

Gender equity (i.e. an equal number of training scholarships to be awarded to women and men) is a key objective of Australia's Sponsored Training Scholarships (ASTAS) and Australia's Development Cooperation Scholarships (ADCOS). ADCOS offers scholarships to individuals from developing countries in accordance with academic merit, gender equity and agreed country-specific criteria which includes regional, ethnic and/or income factors.

The UN Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in September 1994 emphasised the importance of raising the status of women in all countries and of empowering them to participate fully in decision-making in all sectors of society. These issues will be pursued at the fourth United Nations World Conference on Women to be held in Beijing in September 1995, for which Australia is undertaking the role of Regional Lead Donor for the Pacific for the World Conference on Women. AIDAB is collecting information on regional preparatory activities and funding needs in the countries within the region as well as disseminating this information to other donors. Funding is being provided by Australia for activities to support Pacific input for, and participation in, the Beijing Conference.

Australia supports the activities of UNIFEM and INSTRAW in, inter alia, promoting the equitable employment of women in the workforces of developing countries. In 1994-95 AIDAB will provide A$400 000 as core contributions to the budgets of these agencies.

For further information contact:

Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories